Finding a Roommate

The time for living off campus comes at different times for everyone. When that time comes, the apartment and roommate search has begun.

When looking for roommates there are several things you might want to consider. One important point to remember is that as a Baylor student co-habitation, even off campus, is not permitted. To help you decide who is compatible for you, consider how you feel about friends and lifestyle preference, finances, religious beliefs, as well as the type of housing you want. It helps to know how you feel about these things so you can voice your opinion when searching for a roommate or when you have already found one.

When your search begins, you will probably begin talking to people you already know. This has some advantages and disadvantages. Living with someone you already know probably makes for less tension at the beginning because you are aware of what you have in common, what the other person likes or dislikes, and their lifestyle. You are probably already familiar with some of their idiosyncrasies and there are fewer surprises along the way. Even though you might feel you “really know” this person, living with them could be a totally different thing. Consider the fact that you might have the potential to be better friends than you are roommates. You will probably be less likely to tell an acquaintance if something is bothering you for fear of hurting his or her feelings. That can be fatal to any relationship.

Sometimes you are not able to find a person you are already acquainted with and you choose someone you do not know, either from the roommate find service provided by the Student Life Office or through a mutual friend.
When choosing a roommate you do not know, it is a good idea to talk to the individual on the phone first. It if seems to be worth pursuing, then set up a time to meet and discuss some important matters to check your compatibility. It is probably not a good idea to start off with in-depth questions. You might scare them away if you do that! Ask basic questions that allow a lot of information to be given, such as:

  1. What is your schedule like? (the hours you study, work, sleep)
  2. What kind of personal habits do you prefer? (clean, neat, eating, noise)
  3. Do you like to have visitors over often? (Guests? Relatives? etc.)
  4. What kind of academic interests do you have? (goals, graduation date, major, etc.)
  5. What do you like to do in your spare time? (recreation, relaxation, outside activities)

If you still see this individual as a potential roommate, you can move on to more serious questions, such as:

  1. Preferences in food, music, study habits, visiting friends, and boy/girl friends.
  2. How you prefer to handle the finances and pay the bills.
  3. How much rent you are willing to pay, the amount of bedrooms you want, and how much privacy is important to you.
  4. Your religious beliefs and church affiliation and if you think it might/might not get in the way of you and your roommate.
  5. If you want the apartment furnished or unfurnished.
  6. Some things a little less major like long-distance services, cable, things like that.

Always remember to be kind and honest. Treat others as you would want to be treated. The individuals you interview are probably just as skeptical or nervous as you are.

Here are a few suggestions that might be helpful in making a final decision.

  1. Make a list of the positive characteristics you would like.
  2. Do the same with negative or unacceptable traits, like pet peeves or things you really cannot tolerate.
  3. Be sure you recognize the fact that no one is a carbon copy of yourself and compromises will have to be made.

If you interview more people than you need to live with, be sure to tell the others “yes” or “no” as soon as you decide. They are in the same situation you are in, so it is not fair for them to have to wait. Informing them of your decision as soon as possible is just common courtesy.

Once you have decided on a roommate it is not a bad idea to have each person sign a roommate agreement. In doing this, the entire household gets together and signs an agreement on decisions made about certain things. In order to eliminate as many unforeseen problems as possible, seriously consider the idea of compiling the decisions you make together into a written roommate agreement. Here are some suggestions for discussion.

  1. Rent, utilities, furniture, and deposit—it would be a great idea to get together before you move in the apartment with all your roommates to discuss what will be needed and who will be willing to bring it. If it is already furnished, you are not going to have to worry about moving big things. That makes for a lot less hassle. If it is furnished then be sure to include those furnishings needed on a previously compiled list. On the list, put the names of the roommates by the items they are willing to bring (ex: dishes, flatware, pots and pans, extra appliances, phone, etc.). You also may want to decide who will be responsible for which utilities. It is good for each person to have his name on one of the utility bills.
  2. Cleaning and neatness—How often and preference of each.
  3. Food and cooking—How will you buy the food (separately or together)? How often will you cook? It is easier, space wise and usage wise, to share staple items such as flour, sugar, condiments, and things like that. Then when the time comes to replace the items you can take turns.
  4. Household supplies and who can use them—Sometimes it is good to make a chart for household chores also. You could do it on a rotating basis or always be responsible for the same thing. Remember verbal agreements do not always work out.
  5. Borrowing other people’s property and the restraints on that.
  6. Pets—Do you want any? Allergic to any?
  7. Guests—How often is too often? How late is too late?
  8. Music and television.
  9. Tobacco, alcohol, and drugs.
  10. Study times and places—Consistency and frequency?
  11. Sleeping times—Be quiet when others are sleeping.
  12. Privacy—Be considerate of others.

All these topics cover several important issues that will arise when living together, and it is important that everyone be in on the final decision. It also allows the controversial issues to come up before a contract is signed.

Living with one or more persons is not always smooth sailing. Even with careful discussion and prior agreement, misunderstandings will occur. However, there are a few things one can practice to make for the most comfortable living SITUATION. One key to successful roommate living is making sure the lines of communication are kept open. If you have likes, dislikes, or certain preferences, be sure to tell the other people involved. Share ideas and feelings openly. Do not put off stressful discussions. Sit down and talk them out calmly and most of all, honestly.

Second, make a commitment to your roommates to work together in order to have the best living situation possible. Realize that negotiation and compromise are essential factors when living with someone. Share decisions and be sure you give compliments as freely as criticism.

Third, be considerate toward your roommates and their guests and friends. If one of you is undergoing a particularly stressful time, share the situation so extra-sensitive precautions can take place. Respect each other’s property, feelings, and emotions; and they will likely do the same for you.

If you need a mediator, do not hesitate to get one. Sometimes not all things can be worked out alone. If you do need help with mediation, call the Office of Judicial Affairs at 254-710-1715. For more help or personal advice, counseling is available at the Counseling Center at 254-710-2467.